Y Staff Story: My Conversation with Maureen

By: Alma Dhuyvetter | Thursday, May 21, 2020 | Healthy Living

Alma Dhuyvetter makes regular calls to seniors to check in on their well-being.

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my experience I had with one of our senior members. 

I consider myself to be someone who is very empathetic and often feels others’ emotions. It’s been an emotional roller coaster reaching out and speaking to our seniors. Some share that they are challenged to find any normalcy, regular exercise or happiness, even though they try. It can be very hard to hear their sadness. I am happy to offer them an ear, conversation or any recommendations for wellness if they feel it would be helpful. All  are very appreciative and grateful to have someone to talk to and some even share great stories. But one particular story stands out and our conversation was incredibly inspirational. Her name is Maureen.  

Maureen is 80 years old and lives alone. I shared with her that I was just reaching out to check on the well-being of our members and she was thrilled. I asked her how she was doing. She shared that she felt very lonely and was used to being around people because she has a very large family and was missing them very much. She was grateful to be able to talk to them on the phone, yet missed them and their hugs. Her birthday had been a week before and there was an event planned for her at the church her and her family attend. They were going to celebrate her 80th birthday during Mass, but due to COVID-19 they were unable to attend. On her birthday she received a phone call from her family to look outside. She looked out the window and to her surprise 16 of her 23 family members were singing “Happy Birthday,” jumping and cheering. Even her neighbors had joined in. 

As she shared I could hear the excitement and gratefulness in her voice. She shared that she was so incredibly moved and felt very blessed. We talked for at least 30 minutes and she shared many stories about her life and milestones, challenges that she had survived including four different major illnesses. Maureen was kind and thoughtful and even asked about my family. When we finished our conversation I told her to call me with any needs that she may have and I would do my best to help her even if she just wanted to have a conversation. 

After we hung up I felt so inspired by her. This woman of 80 years who had been through challenges who was alone, was so strong, so positive, so sincere and so grateful amidst a pandemic and isolation. I called her to support her and what she gave to me was priceless. 

-The author is Wellness Director at the Sussex County YMCA. 


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